The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, has delivered preliminary recommendations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The recommendations are addressed to the Australian Government and are to be reported on no later than 1 December 2020.
Of the six recommendations, recommendations 5 and 6 are the most pertinent to the cleaning industry and offer the greatest chance for a swift and meaningful response:
- Recommendation 5: All residential aged care homes should have one or more trained infection control officers as a condition of accreditation. The training requirements for these officers should be set by the aged care advisory body we propose.
- Recommendation 6: The Australian Government should arrange with the States and Territories to deploy accredited infection prevention and control experts into residential aged care homes to provide training, assist with the preparation of outbreak management plans and assist with outbreaks.
Training Cleaning Service Teams To Control Infections
Cleaning service providers need to ensure that their cleaning teams are given high-level training in infection control. Appointing trained infection control officers means cleaning service providers will come under increased scrutiny in 2021. Infection control officers will ask external service providers to prove that their staff know how to identify and contain infections.
At BIC Services, we have already prepared for this eventuality.
Our industry-first BIC Training Academy allows us to conduct all our training in-house. We have rolled out Government-accredited infection control training to all leading hands and supervisors, and we will extend this training to every member of our service staff.
Our service teams are often the first line of defence in infection control, and we take this responsibility seriously. We need to know that the teams we send out are equipped with the knowledge they need to keep aged-care residents safe, and that means devoting time and resources to training.
Equipping Cleaning Service Teams To Control Infections
Expertise needs to be backed with sound processes and equipment to cope with outbreaks. We need to ensure our teams are prepared to assist with all outbreak management. Providing them with training is essential, but we also need to ensure our service teams are equipped with the necessary PPE and infection control technology.
Our Interactive Customer Experience Platform is the perfect technology for infection control. Heatmapping and tracking technology facilitates movement tracking throughout facilities. In the event of an infection, we can quickly find out which of our cleaning staff have visited that area and ensure they are tested and instructed to self-isolate.
We can also provide details on how many residents and staff have passed through the area for further testing and isolation.
This technology is also helpful in preventing infections. Using the data, we can gauge when areas of the facility are most used and ensure our teams provide high-touch point cleaning protocols either side of these periods. We can even set rules, so an automatic high-touch point cleaning request is sent out as soon as an area has received a set number of visitations.
In utilising ICXP, we can improve infection control procedures without increasing costs. Good infection control isn’t just about cleaning more often; it’s about providing a targeted, data-driven approach to hygiene.
ICXP means our service teams can be proactive partners in preventing and containing infections. Crucially, the technology allows us to add value beyond cleaning and disinfecting, which is vital in an industry where margins are tight, and funding is always uncertain.
Moving Beyond Service Delivery
To protect residents from COVID-19 and similar threats, cleaning and hygiene companies need to move beyond service delivery. Cleaning companies need to provide staff that Government-appointed teams can count on to make timely and critical decisions.
This partnership model is vital in controlling against an outbreak, where every moment counts, and small mistakes can quickly snowball.
The recommendations resulting from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety don’t aim to apportion blame for COVID-19 outbreaks in aged-care settings. Instead, they provide a clear pathway for protecting against future outbreaks.
Cleaning companies have no control over how Federal and State Governments, or aged-care facilities, respond to the recommendations. However, the cleaning industry can control how it responds. At BIC Services, that means continuing to fine-tune our understanding of infection control and establishing ourselves as trusted partners in safeguarding aged-care facility residents.